A New Process
Lancelot is in charge of the enlistment process for the Order of the White Dragons. As he contemplates how to make the exam fair for applicants of all backgrounds, he learns about the prejudices surrounding his own circumstances when he first applied to the order.
In the capital city of Feendrache, Lancelot serves as the proud captain of the Order of the White Dragons.
In his study, the knight looks troubled as he riffles through some documents at his desk. A sigh escapes him.
???: Yo, Lancey, you got a minute?
Lancelot: Vane, is that you? Please, come in.
Vane: Heh heh, it's finally that time of year again—time to recruit new members for the Order of the White Dragons!
Vane: Who knows what kind of characters will show up this year? Man, I can't wait to see 'em!
Lancelot: Indeed, I'm looking forward to it.
Vane: What's wrong, Lancey?
Vane: Oh! Is it the admission exam summary I made?
Vane: Aw, geez... I forgot to put something in, didn't I?
Lancelot: Oh, sorry. It's not that... The list is fine.
Lancelot: Say, Vane... Could you hear me out for a moment?
Vane: My liege! I'm all ears.
Lancelot places the list on his desk and sits up straight.
Lancelot: I want to make the application process for the Order of the White Dragons fair and equal for all applicants.
Lancelot: Regardless of your lineage or background, if you truly possess the virtues and strength of a knight, that should be enough.
Lancelot: This, I believe, is key to eventually bringing prosperity and glory to our kingdom.
Vane: Wow, yeah... Now that you mention it, I always felt that social status played a big role in the process.
Vane: It's not a terrible system, but I agree—knights shouldn't be judged based on their lineage.
Lancelot: What matters is one's love for the kingdom and its citizens, not social status or background.
Lancelot: However, what can I do to make the system more impartial?
Vane: Hmm... I mean...
Vane: Wait a sec. Didn't King Joseph introduce some policies for less discrimination when he was king?
Lancelot: That's exactly what he did. It was because of the recommendation system he introduced that I myself was able to join the White Dragons.
Lancelot: However, people who have been able to become knights under a king's recommendation are few and far between.
Vane: What? If the king recommends you for knighthood, shouldn't that already be the ticket?
Lancelot: Even if you have the king's recommendation, all would-be knights still need to take tests for certain subjects.
Vane: Now I get it.
Vane: In other words, they'd likely end up failing the tests either way.
Lancelot: Precisely... If you're from nobility, you can afford special tutors. If you're from a family of knights, you can be taught and trained by the previous generation.
Lancelot: No matter how desperately you study or train, to become a knight with entirely self-taught knowledge is no easy task.
Vane: Ain't that the truth...
Vane: It was probably because of your help, teaching me the know-how and whatnot, that I was even able to pass...
Vane: But, Lancey, you gotta admit—to overcome all of those odds, that really makes you like some kinda prodigy!
Lancelot: Now, now, let's not get carried away.
Lancelot: Regardless, even if we opened the test to everyone, it'd be meaningless if only a fraction of the population could properly prepare for it.
Lancelot looks down upon the documents once again and strokes his chin as he begins to ponder.
Lancelot: (Every year we make minute changes to the process in the name of improving it, but who's to say anything good has come from those changes?)
Lancelot: (Wherein does the problem lie? Perhaps a major overhaul is warranted...)
Lancelot: Who's there?
???: It's me. I'm coming in.
Vane: Whoa! Percy?
Lancelot: Now this is a surprise. What brings you back to the capital today?
Percival: I just happened to be in the area and decided to swing by to check up on things.
Lancelot: I appreciate the concern. Things are shipshape here as you can see.
Percival: Hm. I do hope they are.
Vane: Oh, here's an idea!
Vane: Since Percy's here, we should ask him about his thoughts too!
Percival: What do you mean?
Lancelot: Oh, yes. You see...
Lancelot shares his thoughts with Percival about making the application process for the order more impartial.
Percival: Hmm... I see where you're coming from.
Percival: I've been away from the order and the capital for quite some time, so I don't know if I can come up with a solution for now.
Lancelot: That makes sense...
Lancelot: It's fine! Don't worry about it.
Percival: If anything though, you're the perfect example of a knight who didn't come from noble birth.
Percival: You were able to overcome your disadvantages and become a knight of the order, eventually becoming the leader.
Percival: If you simply think about what it took to get to where you are now, shouldn't the answer come naturally?
Lancelot: All I did was stay disciplined in my efforts. That's been the key to all my successes.
Percival: Heh. You really think that's all there was to it?
Lancelot: What are you trying to say?
Percival: Come with me.
Percival steps out of the office without another word.
Puzzled but curious, Lancelot and Vane silently follow him out.
Lancelot: Isn't this Siegfried's room for when he stays here in the capital?
Percival: That's right.
Percival: Siegfried was once the captain of the Black Dragons.
Percival: That means when you took the admission exam, Siegfried should've been working as the head proctor.
Vane: So basically, we should ask Siegfried about Lancey's application?
Percival: Humph. Even a mongrel like you can be on the ball sometimes.
Lancelot: Are you saying I entered the order under special circumstances?
Percival: Ask him yourself.
Percival knocks on the door next to a growingly disquieted Lancelot.
Siegfried: Oh, you lot. All three of you here must mean you have some business with me?
Percival: Yes, well... Something like that.
Percival briefly explains the reason for their sudden arrival.
Siegfried: I see... You guys came all the way out here to ask me about this?
Percival: Yeah, I figured that you might know something.
Siegfried: Of course. If it can help in any way, I'll tell you anything you need to know.
Lancelot: My thanks, Siegfried.
With a nostalgic grin on his face, Siegfried recalls the day of Lancelot's test.
Siegfried: In truth, there actually was a bit of commotion when determining your application for the order.
Siegfried: You possessed incredible sword technique that overwhelmingly outclassed the other applicants—clearly enough to join the order, at least.
Siegfried: However, some of the proctors saw your etiquette as... unrefined.
Siegfried: Obviously that wasn't enough to disqualify you from the exam, but it raised a few eyebrows among the proctors.
Siegfried: Some of the proctors wouldn't even take you seriously as an applicant.
Lancelot: How disgraceful of me...
Siegfried: Of course, I didn't know that such minor things were taken into account for the test. However...
Siegfried: You may not have shown it through so-called etiquette, but you displayed respect to your opponents through the way you handled your sword.
Siegfried: And to me that's true respect—far more honorable than some arbitrary courtesies.
Vane: That's our Siegfried for ya! You knew Lancey was the real deal from the get-go!
Siegfried: There were some qualities in your etiquette that may have needed some rectifying, but your potential as a knight was clear as day.
Siegfried: Anyway, I had deemed you as a capable applicant, but your application was unjustly dismissed by your proctor.
Siegfried: The original reasoning was to decline you on the grounds that this was a test not only for your talents as a swordsman, but your etiquette as one also.
Percival: Not uncommon for lowly nobles. Give 'em a little bit of power and they'll do anything to keep others out... Utterly despicable.
Siegfried: Either way, in the end it was determined that a man such as Lancelot would not become part of the order.
Lancelot: However, I ended up passing in the end. What happened?
Siegfried: I asked that man a simple question—what qualities does a true knight possess?
Siegfried: He answered me saying a chivalrous spirit, as if I had taught it to him myself.
Siegfried: So I asked him what qualities a chivalrous spirit consisted of next.
Siegfried: Unwavering loyalty, honesty, and valor... the list went on for some time.
Siegfried: I asked him which one of those qualities Lancelot did not possess.
Siegfried: And just like that, he revised your application to a passing score and handed it to me, with nary a word spoken.
Vane: What! Are you telling me that the only reason Lancey is with us was due to Siegfried?
Lancelot: So that's what happened...
Lancelot: I'm truly grateful.
Siegfried: Now, there's no need for that... I merely kept a man to his word.
Siegfried: It was because of your own work and skill that you were able to join our ranks.
Lancelot: That may be true, but if it hadn't been for your words, I wouldn't have even...
Siegfried: Don't be mistaken, Lancelot. I wasn't giving you preferential treatment of any sort.
Siegfried: Overcoming adversity and various challenges with spectacular efforts to eventually become captain has undeniably proven your mettle.
Siegfried: At the time, I simply chose what I thought would be best for the future of our kingdom.
Lancelot: Yes, of course. Not only did you judge us fairly without prejudice, you didn't pick favorites either.
Lancelot: Everything in the name of king and country... You truly are a worthy knight.
Vane: Say Percy, did you know about this? You don't look too surprised about what we just heard.
Percival: No, but if you think about it, anyone could've guessed that something like that went down.
Percival: Lancelot's situation at the time wasn't something that could be overcome with hard work alone.
Lancelot: I challenged everything so recklessly, ignorant to my own circumstances.
Percival: Well, you certainly did ruffle a few feathers among the nobles. You could say that some were even jealous of your talent despite your background.
Percival: The naysayers have mostly shut up since you've proven yourself a worthy captain for the order.
Percival: It isn't easy to change attitudes and prejudices. That goes for both knights and citizens.
Vane: Damn straight. Well, Percy comes from nobility himself, so I'm sure he's heard all kinds of awful things.
Lancelot: There are still some even in the order now who consider themselves to be better due to their lineage.
Lancelot: The problem isn't limited to the application process—it runs deep within the proctors themselves.
Siegfried: Well, I've said just about everything that I can recall.
Siegfried: You certainly have some work cut out for you. I hope my ramblings proved to be of some help, at least.
Lancelot: Incredibly helpful. Thank you for sharing this with me.
Lancelot learns about the circumstances leading to his entry into the order.
As the captain of the order himself now, Lancelot reflects on how he can contribute in the same way his mentor did.
Rise of a Nameless Knight
In hopes of improving the application process for the White Dragons, Lancelot visits a nearby kingdom with a vastly different approach to the task. Percival joins him for the journey, and the two knights discuss their respective backgrounds and upbringings as they travel to their destination.
Lancelot has learned from Siegfried what really happened when he originally entered the Order of the White Dragons.
He thought he would be able to find a way to reform the application process, but a clear answer has yet to be found.
Wanting to help Lancelot, Vane asks around and learns about a certain country from Percival.
That country established an unusual admission exam for becoming a knight, regardless of lineage or background.
Upon learning of this country's methods, Vane suggests to Lancelot to do some reconnaissance of his own.
Vane: I don't really understand complicated stuff like this, but...
Vane: Rather than just sitting around here thinking, I say you should go out and see things for yourself!
Vane: And don't worry, Lancey—this first officer right here will keep an eye on the fort while you're out!
Lancelot: Thanks, Vane. I appreciate it.
And thus, Lancelot and Percival depart on the next airship leaving the capital.
Lancelot: There you are.
Percival: What's the matter?
Lancelot: I've been so busy lately that I wasn't able to properly thank you.
Lancelot: I appreciate you telling Vane about this place and accompanying me for the journey.
Percival: Humph. Well, I couldn't just stand around and watch you curs make a ruckus.
Percival: Besides, I'm acquainted with the captain of their order, and so it's only natural that I introduce you.
Lancelot: Hehe... Either way, I appreciate the gesture.
Percival: By the way, after hearing Siegfried's story, I've been wanting to ask you something.
Percival: Before joining the order, how did you guys practice your swordcraft and whatnot?
Lancelot: How? We didn't really do anything out of the ordinary, I don't think.
Percival: In my family's case, we had our own special education and teacher solely for teaching the art of the sword. Many nobles do the same.
Percival: Was there anyone in your life like that?
Lancelot: So that's what you meant. Well, it's not as if I didn't have anyone in my life to teach me swordsmanship.
Lancelot: But I don't think I had anyone in my life that you would consider a proper teacher.
With a wry smile, Lancelot reminisces about his hometown life before joining the order.
Lancelot: Back in my hometown, there was an old swordmaster that lived nearby.
Lancelot: Vane and I always sought him out when we wanted to train.
Lancelot: He taught us various skills, from how to properly grasp a sword to basic handling techniques.
Percival: If you ask me, that sounds exactly like someone I'd call a proper teacher.
Lancelot: For Vane and I, he was a teacher—no doubt about it.
Lancelot: But alas, he was not a knight, and unfamiliar with the art of battle. That was something we'd have to learn on our own.
Percival: So I suppose for anything outside of swordsmanship, he wasn't much of a teacher after all.
Percival: By the way, I'd actually heard you received your recommendation to join the order upon winning a duel against a famous swordsman. Is he...
Lancelot: Yes, the very same swordmaster. I was just fortunate enough to win on that day, that's all.
Lancelot: However, news of our duel spread around until one day when he suddenly stopped teaching me.
Percival: Maybe he lost his confidence after losing to a child?
Lancelot: Perhaps... All I know is that he told me that there was nothing left to teach me. He threw away his sword that day and went to working in the fields, never looking back.
Lancelot: From then on, all of my experience and knowledge was self-taught, either through books or by fighting monsters.
Lancelot: So I picked up the essentials of being a knight here and there with books I could find. I can't really recommend any of them though.
Percival realizes how privileged he'd been growing up, reflecting on how easy it was for him to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge in comparison.
It would be much more difficult for someone outside of such an environment to obtain the tools and knowledge to become a knight.
Percival: I don't know how to say this, but... I'm impressed that you wanted to become a knight despite your upbringing.
Lancelot: I was just a fool who didn't understand the world. If I had known the reality of my situation, I may have been much more hesitant.
Lancelot: But... my ambition and desire to become a knight was pure. No matter what my circumstances were, I didn't want to give this up.
Lancelot: That's why I want to give these aspiring children with the same dream a chance as well.
Percival: Heh. Well, I understand your ideals, but don't forget this.
Percival: Even if you make the exam more accessible for people, that doesn't mean it has to be a cakewalk.
Lancelot: You don't need to worry about that. Only those worthy will be chosen. That will never change.
Listening to the conviction in Lancelot's voice, Percival gives a look of relief.
As the two knights discuss their respective backgrounds and upbringings, they draw closer to their destination.
Rise of a Nameless Knight: Scene 2
Lancelot arrives at the kingdom just as the admission exams begin. He soon discovers that the number of proctors is quite large, allowing them to fully examine the virtues and personalities of the applicants. Having found a model example, Lancelot contemplates how to implement this new system in Feendrache.
Percival and Lancelot happen to arrive at the kingdom just as exams were being held for the next would-be knights.
Percival introduces Lancelot to the leaders of the order, explaining the purpose of their sudden visit.
Head Proctor: So that's the case. Very well then, you may observe our upcoming exam if you wish.
Lancelot: Thank you... My deepest gratitude to all of you.
Percival: Well, I'll be off on my way then.
Lancelot: Thanks for the introduction. Take care.
Once Lancelot is introduced, Percival takes off to attend to another matter.
The head proctor leads Lancelot to the grounds where the exam is to be held.
Lancelot: (There doesn't seem to be as many applicants. Although given the size of this country, I suppose this turnout is pretty reasonable.)
Lancelot: (The subjects and recruiting methods seem to be similar so far, if not exactly the same as the capital's. But if I had to choose something that was different...)
Head Proctor: Compared to your kingdom, I suppose our exam may not be as sophisticated but I do hope this doesn't affect your perspective.
Lancelot: No, not at all. Maintaining a high standard is what's important, and I've heard nothing but good things.
Lancelot: However, there seem to be quite a large number of proctors despite the number of applicants. Why is that?
Head Proctor: Interesting... Your colleague, Percival, asked the same question when he first visited.
Head Proctor: After demonstrating that they have the minimum skill requirements, applicants will then undergo a more personal exam to test their knightly virtues.
Head Proctor: Do they possess courage and nobility in their hearts? Do they act with mercy or recklessness?
Head Proctor: As a knight, one must have a sense of justice and duty. It is here that we test these qualities.
Lancelot: I see. So that explains all of the proctors, then.
Lancelot: However, to devote such a large number of individual proctors... Surely there's a more efficient method?
Head Proctor: Just as you might think, this method is certainly not one that people would call efficient.
Head Proctor: However! There's no price for ensuring the growth and prosperity of our country, and it starts here.
Head Proctor: If you think about it as an investment in the future, the amount of effort and time put into this test seems appropriate.
Lancelot: (There are two problems with the current application process for the White Dragons.)
Lancelot: (Obviously the attitudes toward non-nobility among the proctors a problem. The other one is having an exam that heavily favors nobles and the privileged.)
Lancelot: (If we were to change our exam to be more like this country's, this could very well be the key to our problems.)
Lancelot: I was told that all citizens are eligible for knighthood regardless of their lineage and social standing. Is this true?
Head Proctor: While I admit that we have many knights among our ranks that come from nobility, I daresay that may be due to half of our applicants being nobles.
Head Proctor: However, I myself come from a remote village—compared to other countries, I'd say we have a smaller proportion of nobles.
Lancelot: Did you ever feel out of place, even after joining?
Head Proctor: Well, those who hold prejudices against people's backgrounds don't make it past the initial tests.
Head Proctor: Such an unrefined way of thinking... People who consider themselves superior due to their lineage or background have no place within our ranks.
The knight declared his words with a clear conviction in his voice.
His dignified voice and manner was just as noble as any honorable knight he had ever seen.
Lancelot: So this is the result of years and years of having a truly fair and equal examination system.
Lancelot: When I look at you, I can understand how splendid the knights of this country truly are.
Head Proctor: To receive such praise from you, Lancelot, it truly is an honor!
Lancelot: (However, instilling such a sense of values into people is easier said than done. Will the capital even accept such a proposal?)
Lancelot: If you don't mind, may I ask a proctor some questions?
Head Proctor: Not at all! We may be able to catch one in between tests right now. Please, this way.
Having now found a model application process, Lancelot's quest continues.
Rise of a Nameless Knight: Scene 3
Lancelot returns to Feendrache still unsure as to whether a new application process for the order is possible. With Siegfried's encouragement, however, Lancelot realizes how far he's come. With newfound resolve, he asks Siegfried to duel him for old time's sake.
After concluding his research, Lancelot returns to the capital and stops by the training grounds alone.
Having spent his first day back catching up on various errands that accumulated during his absence, the sun has already begun to set.
Lancelot: (I haven't kept up with my training for a few days. I suppose some exercise is in order.)
Firmly grasping his swords, he practices his swings in a secluded area on the grounds.
In the midst of his training, another man silently approaches Lancelot.
Siegfried: Your footwork is too loose—you've already given your opponent an opportunity to escape.
Siegfried: What's on your mind?
Siegfried: It came to my attention that you went on a little research excursion. Was it unsuccessful?
Lancelot: It's not that. I learned of methods that would be truly beneficial for our order. But I don't know...
Siegfried: What's the matter? Share your thoughts with me.
Lancelot describes to Siegfried the application process and exam methods he witnessed on his travels.
Lancelot: The judgment of each applicant must be left to the proctors, to determine whether or not they truly possess the virtues of a knight.
Lancelot: Of course, each and every proctor will have their own sense of values, but they should all be looking for the exact same qualities.
Lancelot: If I were able to employ a small trusted team of proctors, I would feel more at ease about this.
Lancelot: With more proctors, surely there will be some with values different than my own... Either way, I must be able to trust them to make the right decisions.
Lancelot: I don't even know if I'm capable of convincing all of our proctors to see eye to eye with me.
Siegfried: I see.
Siegfried: Your concerns are justified. Every order of knights has a few among their ranks who may look down on some of their own fellow knights and brethren due to their background.
Siegfried: To instill new perspectives to those who value traditional ways of thinking won't be an easy task.
Siegfried: However, without the opportunity for change to bloom, it cannot flower.
Siegfried: It may be difficult to try and change everything on your own, but perhaps creating the opportunity for change to bloom is a start.
Lancelot: An opportunity for change...
Siegfried: You're a man who has had to overcome every hardship to become a knight, and despite your background made your way to becoming the captain of our order.
Siegfried: I'd say you're the perfect one to create such opportunities.
Siegfried's calm expression glows with a warm smile, illuminated by the faint lights of the castle above.
A teacher and pupil on the training grounds, under the twilight of the evening sky—Lancelot recalls the days when Siegfried trained him in swordsmanship here.
Lancelot: Heh. Having you here, listening to my woes... It's just like when I first joined the order.
Lancelot: I thought that I'd grown since then, but it seems that I still have so much to learn from you.
Siegfried: Your woes are for the future of our kingdom. That is nothing to be ashamed of.
Siegfried: You've grown much since you first joined our ranks. You've become a knight that the capital can truly be proud to have as a captain.
Lancelot: Your words are much appreciated.
Lancelot feels the warmth of these endearing words from his teacher, who taught him everything ever since he was a nameless trainee.
With his heart steeped in courage, Lancelot grips his swords.
Lancelot: Siegfried, I have a request of you.
Lancelot: Would you... have a duel with me?
Siegfried: Heh. Going back to basics, I see.
Siegfried: Very well.
Siegfried: Come at me... Whenever you're ready.
Lancelot: Thank you.
Siegfried: Lancelot, concerning what you should do... you must already hold the answer.
Siegfried: Now I'll test your resolve—prepare yourself!
Lancelot: I understand!
Lancelot: Here I come!
Shrouded in the silent shadows of the night, the teacher and pupil begin their training.
Rise of a Nameless Knight: Scene 4
Upon ending his duel with Siegfried, Lancelot decides to establish a new application process for the order with the faith that he'll be able to fulfill his ambitions as long as he has the support of his friends. As a potential mentor for the aspiring knights of tomorrow, Lancelot sets his sights on being an example for others and opening the doors to a new generation.
Siegfried: Truly... exceptional, Lancelot.
Lancelot: I'm honored to receive your praise...
Lancelot: Vane! How long have you been watching?
Vane: It's been so long since I've seen Lancey and Siegfried going at it together...
Vane: You guys really are totally awesome—my heart's racing like crazy... Look, I've got goose bumps!
Siegfried: He showed up shortly after we started... I guess you didn't notice his presence.
Lancelot: If it had been an enemy, we could've been caught off guard... I still have much to work on.
Vane: No way, Lancey! You're stronger than ever before!
Lancelot: Haha, I'm glad you think so.
Siegfried: Have you decided?
Lancelot swiftly replies with a confident nod.
Lancelot: Before, I would do whatever it took to become a knight, with reckless abandon.
Lancelot: Rather than worry about whether or not I could do something, I'd fecklessly continue to challenge myself.
Lancelot: Looking back now at who I was in the past, I finally realized something.
Lancelot: Once you've decided on something, hesitating on it is simply a waste of time!
As if making a vow, Lancelot holds a sword straight up.
Lancelot: As the head proctor, I'll persuade the other proctor—every last one of them if I have to.
Lancelot: You all have my word. I will establish a fair and equal examination system!
Vane: Heh, that's what I was waiting to hear!
Vane: You know we always have your back to the very end, Lancey! We'll do everything we can to help!
Lancelot: Much obliged.
Siegfried: Heh. If anything, you've been blessed with comradery in your life.
Lancelot: Yes... I truly am.
Siegfried: Lancelot. You've gathered the resolve to stand for what you believe in, despite the hurdles that surely await on the horizon.
Siegfried: This will be much more difficult than just recklessly taking the problem head on.
Lancelot: I understand.
Siegfried: However, as long as you stay true and work with your fellow comrades, I know you have the ambition to succeed.
Siegfried: I look forward to your success.
Lancelot: I won't let you down, Siegfried.
Siegfried: You've really grown.
Siegfried reminisces about his days ever since joining the order as a bittersweet smile forms on his face.
Siegfried: Lancelot... As your teacher, there's something I want you to know.
Siegfried: Just as I've been a teacher and mentor to you, someday you too will become a mentor to someone else.
Siegfried: I want you to become a worthy mentor—a revered knight that all aspiring knights can look up to.
Lancelot: Me... Become a mentor?
Vane: Whoa... Professor Lancey's gonna teach?
Vane: Heheh... Lancey's already got everyone's respect; you'll make an awesome mentor!
Lancelot: That's laying it on a bit thick, Vane.
Vane: Come on, Lancey, don't you know? Everyone in the order wants to be just like you!
Lancelot: In that case, I should double my efforts in setting an example for the others, shouldn't I?
Brimming with determination, Lancelot sets his sights on establishing a new application process for the order with his newfound knowledge.
Perhaps one day he will be the key to open the doors to a new future for young and aspiring knights.
For now, his heart has swelled with excitement for the future that lies before him on the horizon.